Hello everybody! Through my work at QUAD cinema and art gallery in Derby I lead a fortnightly film group that encourages members to watch films that might not already be on their radar. Since we’ve been running we’ve seen a few classics (Singing In the Rain! Inception!), a few safer options (Whatever Works) and a few duds (Tamara Drewe – not covered due to its mundanity!) but each one has given us something to talk about and seeing as that is the point of the group in the first place, it’s all good!
Here’s a quick summary of the three latest films we’ve watched as a group, just to keep you glorious readers up to date!
The thing i like the most about My Afternoons with Margueritte is that it isn’t particularly good.
Stay with me. I think there is a tendency in this country (and perhaps elsewhere) to label everything the French put out as bona-fide classics with amazing art direction, subtext and grandiose resonance; My Afternoons with Margueritte has none of these things.
The film is a simple love story set in an idyllic community between a local man, Germain, played by Gerard Depardieu (HE ate all the pies!) and an old woman, Margueritte (2 T’s), who come together over a love of learning, life and pigeons. As Margueritte teaches Germain to read on a park bench her influence on him spills into his relationships with others and he grows in stature and confidence within the community.
Margueritte is one of those happy-go-lucky films that people might reject for being too rose tinted- but it has enough laughs and idiosyncrasies to keep my attention and the truth is I could have stayed with these characters for hours more once the credits rolled. The film feels charming and real- were it in English and starring Judi Dench everyone would be talking about it!
We saw Peeping Tom as part of the ID Fest programme at QUAD celebrating English identity in film.
Well, talk about a sense of identity! Peeping Tom is revered as one of the most important also-rans in English cinema. In 1960 Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom lost out in the notoriety stakes to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and was critically panned for decades. The film practically destroyed Powell’s reputation and was one of his last features. However over time Peeping Tom’s reputation has grown and it is now regarded as a classic that lay the way for the serial-killer horrors that followed in its wake.
I like to think that were it not for Peeping Tom shocking audiences with its sympathetic portrayal of serial killer Mark Lewis (an ‘Englishman’ played by a German in 1960- SUBTEXT!!!) then Psycho might not have been half as successful when it was released a few months later.
As a film Peeping Tom has certainly dated, as much in the performances and staging as anything else. Yet there is still a sense of unease and unflinching lust in the relationship between Mark and Vivian (Moira Shearer) that means the film still succeeds in making its audience uncomfortable, which after all is exactly what the filmmakers wanted to do in the first place.
A rightful classic that might not be for everybody.
I wrote a review of Somewhere as part of our 12 Days of Castmas extravaganza and those words can be found here. Since writing that review my opinion on the film has not waned, in fact if anything it has cemented. Sofia Coppola’s take on Hollywood has infiltrated my mind and I still think of it regularly and become more impressed with its method.
The response has been mixed at best (and that is fine) and if anything I love it more for the effect it is having on audiences, but more importantly I can’t wait to check it out again when the next opportunity arises so I can spend more time with Johnny Marco doing absolutely NOTHING!
Bang up to date! See you for part 6 in a few weeks!